Want to Cut Your Chances of Catching a Cold? Try These Tips

Skip Germ Strippers

Like most Americans you’re constantly bombarded with antibacterial soaps and gels that claim to instantly kill ills. However, colds are viruses, and antibacterials are designed to work against bacteria, so they're inherently useless for preventing colds, explains Ackerman. In fact, a recent review in the American Journal of Public Health found that antibacterial washes were no more effective in preventing colds than regular soap. The real secret to staying healthy: Stick with good ‘ol soap and water--and scrub up for at least 15 seconds, she says. Why? Washing your hands helps prevent illnesses not by killing microbes, but by effectively removing them from your skin.

Stick with Symptom-Specific Meds

You already know acetaminophen can reduce the malaise associated with a cold, while antihistamines can dry up a runny nose. However, experts suggest steering clear of those flashier, multi-symptom cold meds, since these products have greater risk of side effects and overdose, especially if you’re already taking acetaminophen on the side (many combo drugs also include this ingredient), Ackerman writes. A smarter strategy: Stick to single-ingredient meds targeted to a specific symptom. Plenty of OTC drugs have just one ingredient, she says. For instance, Benadryl contains only diphenhydramine while Tylenol contains only acetaminophen.

Next>> How to get rid of a cold faster

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